Stephen Dobyns wrote one of my favorite poems, for which this blog is titled. He is this year's selection for the prestigious Mohr Visiting Poet Series in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University. As the Mohr Visiting Poet, Dobyns gave tonight's reading at Cubberley Auditorium. I was there with my friend Kelly, who gave me Dobyns's Velocities: New and Selected Poems back during our first year in graduate school in 2004; she was a huge fan of the collection, and of "How To Like It," and I know the work because of her. We have remained close friends while living near each other in Miami, and now in Northern California, and during our various travels and living elsewhere in-between. Kelly knew Katie. She came and visited us in Romania, and she was at Katie's service in Antioch, IL. Katie liked "How To Like It," too--I would put it right up there with Catherine Bowman's "Spice Night" and B.H. Fairchild's "The Blue Buick," as her favorites. "How To Like It" offers bittersweet consolations. It is a complicated and intelligent poem about desire and meaning that is alternately withstanding, confined, energetic, despondent, hopeful, and resigned--often within the same sentence. It deserves much more careful praise, but I want to also add here that it is a poem that I go to, time and again, to find strength and meaning, and to offer same to friends and family members. It is a wonderful poem, and I feel very lucky to have heard it read by the author himself, with my good friend, to whom I am indebted for knowing it.
Here is the video of Dobyns reading "How To Like It" tonight: